How to Handle Caregivers and Lease Agreements

One of the few things that are guaranteed in this world is people age every second of every day; we’re all getting older! There are health issues, memory issues, but maturity doesn’t change. The need for the independence that you had when you were younger doesn’t change. The desire to be in the home that you have known for so long doesn’t change. In recent U.S. history, it has become a kind of norm to send elders off to live in specialized homes, filled with doctors and nurses and lifeless hallways, where they wait for weekend visitors or special shows that might make a day brighter. It takes some ease off their adult children, who worry about if their parents have taken the right medication, if they may have fallen and couldn’t get up, or any number of similar incidents.

The other options that some turn to is hiring a live-in caregiver. Not limited to our dearly beloved grandparents, a live-in nurse or similar staffing can provide a person with many kinds of daily help while enabling a person to also feel independent enough to stay in their beloved home.

A live-in caregiver is on your property looking to aid a disabled resident, but they are not going to pay you rent. What are your responsibilities to this person, or for your property regarding this person?

One of the few things that are guaranteed in this world is people age every second of every day; we’re all getting older! There are health issues, memory issues, but maturity doesn’t change. The need for the independence that you had when you were younger doesn’t change. The desire to be in the home that you have known for so long doesn’t change. In recent U.S. history, it has become a kind of norm to send elders off to live in specialized homes, filled with doctors and nurses and lifeless hallways, where they wait for weekend visitors or special shows that might make a day brighter. It takes some ease off their adult children, who worry about if their parents have taken the right medication, if they may have fallen and couldn’t get up, or any number of similar incidents.

The other options that some turn to is hiring a live-in caregiver. Not limited to our dearly beloved grandparents, a live-in nurse or similar staffing can provide a person with many kinds of daily help while enabling a person to also feel independent enough to stay in their beloved home.

A live-in caregiver is on your property looking to aid a disabled resident, but they are not going to pay you rent. What are your responsibilities to this person, or for your property regarding this person?

Do They Count as a Renter?

For many reasons, a live-in caregiver does not count as a resident on the property. They are not expected to pay for rent or utilities, because they are there to work. This is a high stress field of employment with endless possibilities under the category of Things That Could Go Wrong, deadly wrong. They are paid to be there, not paying to be there. Depending on where the home is, the policy of the business that provides the caregivers, local laws and your policies, they might be on the lease. But they are not your renter, and you have to remember this.

Normally, you would go through a typical screening process. That includes a lot of things, from a background check, criminal history, and credit check. You do not credit check a live-in caregiver, because their credit does not matter to you. Again, they are being paid to be there, they are not paying you to be there.

Do They Count as a Renter?

For many reasons, a live-in caregiver does not count as a resident on the property. They are not expected to pay for rent or utilities, because they are there to work. This is a high stress field of employment with endless possibilities under the category of Things That Could Go Wrong, deadly wrong. They are paid to be there, not paying to be there. Depending on where the home is, the policy of the business that provides the caregivers, local laws and your policies, they might be on the lease. But they are not your renter, and you have to remember this.

Normally, you would go through a typical screening process. That includes a lot of things, from a background check, criminal history, and credit check. You do not credit check a live-in caregiver, because their credit does not matter to you. Again, they are being paid to be there, they are not paying you to be there.

What about Criminal History Checks?

This is where you, as a property manager or owner, have some sense of flexibility. It would be wise to first ask a local lawyer about the situation as the laws can change based on location, even for something as small as where your renter may have hired their caregiver from, and if that business screens their employees.

Rental housing industry laws get rather murky when it comes to a live-in caregiver from a professional setting. On one hand, this can be considered as covered by the ADA – you can’t say no to a seeing eye dog and saying no to a required medical aid would be on that same level. Some would advise that if you are planning to ask a caregiver for a criminal history check, you should do so with every service that your tenant may hire, like a live-in nanny, housekeeper, etc., in the way you could say ‘it’s not just you, I do this with everyone so please don’t be offended.’

Getting advice from a lawyer will be a great way to begin navigating what could easily become a complicated process, from occupancy laws to navigating the relationship with a non-renter who might be seen as an occupant still.

What about Criminal History Checks?

This is where you, as a property manager or owner, have some sense of flexibility. It would be wise to first ask a local lawyer about the situation as the laws can change based on location, even for something as small as where your renter may have hired their caregiver from, and if that business screens their employees.

Rental housing industry laws get rather murky when it comes to a live-in caregiver from a professional setting. On one hand, this can be considered as covered by the ADA – you can’t say no to a seeing eye dog and saying no to a required medical aid would be on that same level. Some would advise that if you are planning to ask a caregiver for a criminal history check, you should do so with every service that your tenant may hire, like a live-in nanny, housekeeper, etc., in the way you could say ‘it’s not just you, I do this with everyone so please don’t be offended.’

Getting advice from a lawyer will be a great way to begin navigating what could easily become a complicated process, from occupancy laws to navigating the relationship with a non-renter who might be seen as an occupant still.

How do you handle Let us know in the comments below!

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Nicole Seidner

Cole Seidner is a copywriter here at the CIC Blog. She holds a degree in Writing from Savannah College of Art and Design with a focus in creative nonfiction. Her free time is spent taking pictures of her dogs or reading deep dive analysis on movies that she hasn’t seen.

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